Affiliate marketing has become a popular way for businesses to advertise their products and services online. However, managing an affiliate program can be a daunting task, especially as your network of affiliate partners grows.
Luckily, affiliate software can help automate tedious processes and keep campaigns well-organized, so you can focus on other areas that will catapult your business to success.
In this article, we will explore what affiliate tracking software is, how it works, and why companies should consider using it to manage their affiliate partners. As a business owner looking to launch a successful affiliate marketing campaign, this article will provide you with the information you need to understand the benefits of affiliate marketing software and how it can help you achieve your goals.
What is Affiliate Marketing?
Before we dive into the details of affiliate management software, let’s make sure you’re in the right place. You must know what affiliate marketing is and how it works before you can decide if affiliate management software is right for you.
Affiliate marketing is a type of online advertising where a business rewards affiliates (also known as partners) for promoting their products or services. In most cases, the affiliate partner will talk to their audience about the value behind a product/service and direct users to buy through a unique link or code. Affiliates typically receive a commission for each sale (pay per sale), lead (pay per lead), or click (pay per click) they generate for the company.
Affiliates can promote products or services through a variety of channels, such as social media, email marketing, paid advertising, or content creation. Within these channels, they can choose to market products in several different ways, including honest reviews, tutorials, unboxing, or other types of content that inform and persuades audiences to buy.
Why Should You Use an Affiliate Marketing Program?
One of the key benefits of affiliate marketing is that it allows businesses to reach a wider group of people and generate more sales without incurring hefty upfront costs that come with traditional advertising and marketing campaigns.
Additionally, for affiliates, it provides an opportunity to monetize their online presence and earn passive income by promoting products or services that align with their crowd’s interests and needs.
Here are a few other benefits of an affiliate marketing program:
By partnering with affiliates, you can tap into your affiliate marketers’ audiences and generate more sales than you could on your own.
Unlike traditional advertising, affiliate marketing is a performance-based model where you only pay commissions for desired actions.
Loyal Customer Base
Most affiliates have audiences that trust their advice and recommendations. As a result, they will automatically have more trust in your business model than they would if you were a company they happened upon themselves. This allows you to generate loyal customers without doing more than providing an affiliate with links and instructions.
Overall, affiliate marketing campaigns are an effective way for businesses to expand their influence while reducing costs.
So, why would you need affiliate management software? The affiliate marketing process typically involves three parties: the merchant who sells the product or service, the partner who promotes the product or service, and the customer who buys through the affiliate’s unique link or code.
Every sale involves a transaction between each party – as your affiliate network grows, it may become increasingly difficult to track every partner and transaction while ensuring efficiency and security.
This is precisely where affiliate tracking software comes into play.
What is Affiliate Software?
Affiliate marketing software is a tool used by businesses to manage their affiliate programs by tracking their partners’ performance. The program uses tracking links or codes to monitor when a customer clicks on an affiliate’s link and makes a purchase or performs another desired action on the business’s website, such as downloading a freebie, subscribing to an email list, signing up for a free trial, or placing items in a shopping cart.
Here’s a simple breakdown of how affiliate marketing software works:
Affiliate Receives Unique Link
The business provides each affiliate with a unique tracking link or code they can use to promote certain products or services – or the organization as a whole.
Software Tracks Desired Actions
When a customer clicks on an affiliate’s unique link, the software traces the click and the user’s activity on the business’ website.
If the customer makes a purchase or follows another call to action on the website, the software records the sale or lead and attributes it to the affiliate who referred the customer.
Calculate Commission Owed
The software then calculates the commission owed to the affiliate based on the agreed-upon rate.
Analyze Collected Data
The business can view reports and analytics within the software to track affiliate performance automatically, identify top-performing partners, and make necessary adjustments to their affiliate marketing strategies to increase sales and revenue.
Overall, affiliate management software makes it easier to oversee an affiliate program by automating tasks, such as tracking referrals, calculating commissions, and issuing payments. It allows you to accurately measure performance and reward affiliates for their efforts while supporting efforts to make money online by promoting products and services they believe in.
Benefits of Using an Affiliate Marketing Platform
Affiliate marketing software provides a centralized hub for managing all aspects of affiliate campaigns. With a single glance at your affiliate dashboard, you can see which partners bring users to your website most often, how users interact with your website, how many loyal vs one-time customers you’ve gained, and other reporting tools that assess important affiliate data.
We’ve broken down the most significant benefits of using an affiliate marketing platform to track your marketing achievements.
Using tools that automate business processes will almost always result in increased efficiency. Without affiliate marketing software, you must manually track affiliate sales, create and compare performance metrics, distribute affiliate payments, and manage partnerships. You would need multiple platforms for communication, invoicing, and recording.
When spread so thin, there is a risk of missing important information that could result in wasting money on affiliate channels that don’t work – this is especially true for large affiliate networks.
Additionally, affiliate marketing platforms can automate the payment process, ensuring you pay affiliates the correct amount on time, therefore reducing the number of administrative tasks and improving relationships.
Affiliate marketing platforms automate dozens of tedious processes that will save your business and employees a significant amount of time, money, and energy. With more of these valuable resources on your hands, you can focus on scaling operations to new heights.
Affiliate program management requires you to track many critical metrics. There is no point in spending thousands of dollars on promotional materials and partner programs if they don’t produce a satisfying return on investment (ROI).
Your business can only run the best affiliate marketing programs if you know they work. Affiliate marketing software provides real-time reporting and analytics, allowing you to monitor the performance of your affiliate program and make data-driven decisions.
An affiliate portal can track and measure the following metrics for success:
The number of clicks measures how much exposure affiliates give your business. Although your goal may be to see a high number of clicks, you must also pay attention to how many clicks lead to other desired actions, like buying with coupon codes or registering for a free plan.
Many clicks paired with few sales means you may need to adjust your offering to be more attractive or seek new affiliates.
Sales tracking is always important – even if your goal with an affiliate marketing campaign is not directly related to sales, i.e. grow an email list or collect survey data. You will still want to measure the rate of new customer acquisition against cost and return.
Conversion rate is crucial for all e commerce businesses. It indicates how effective affiliate partners are at turning their followers into your customers. A good conversation rate for your business will depend on the size of your affiliate network.
Return on Investment
Tracking how much you spend to attract, pay, and manage affiliates – including spending on affiliate marketing software – will impact your budget and profits. You must have a clear view of your ROI to know which efforts are profitable and how you will budget for them.
Incremental revenue refers to sales that a referral program generates without help from other marketing efforts, like email or organic traffic. It can be difficult to measure how much revenue comes only from our own affiliate network, but the best affiliate marketing software makes it much easier.
Cost Per Click and Cost Per Sale
Both cost per click (CPC) and cost per sale (CPS) tell you how much, on average, you spend acquiring each new customer. Generally, your goal should be to keep spending low while your revenue increases, which your affiliate manager will help you measure.
However, spending may be high when you engage affiliates with large, valuable audiences. You are in good standing as long as the return on investment is satisfactory for your business model.
Percent of Affiliates Engaged
Engaged affiliates are those who are actively promoting your business and generating leads or sales. If you have a few very active participants while other affiliate marketers have little to no results within a six-month period, it may be time to reevaluate your relationship with them.
Type of Active Affiliates
The best affiliate marketing software will segment your affiliates according to how they direct users to your ecommerce platform. Tracking this metric will help you evaluate which stage of the customer journey has the best conversion rate. From there, you can prioritize the efforts that work.
Top Affiliates and Their Sales
Knowing which affiliates drive the most desired action and revenue can help you refine your marketing efforts to attract a specific audience. Once you understand the type of content that drives sales, you can reach out to other potential affiliates in similar or parallel industries.
Reversed Sales Rate
Reverse sales rate measures how many enterprise customers return a product or cancel a service. It’s an important metric to track as it can indicate issues with product quality, customer support, or marketing messaging that may lead to higher rates of returns or cancelations.
By monitoring how affiliate programs affect this metric, you can identify areas for improvement and work to minimize the reversed sales rate, which can ultimately boost sales and customer satisfaction.
While most affiliates work hard to be valuable business partners, some will try to take advantage of the opportunity to receive discounts or free products and services by sending bots to your website instead of qualified leads.
The best affiliate management software will help you prevent affiliate fraud by monitoring traffic to ensure customers take each step necessary to purchase, track digital footprints, and perform an IP analysis.
An IP analysis can track how many connection attempts a user makes within an hour, how quickly they enter coupon codes, and the amount of time it takes them to buy after visiting your website.
Provide Affiliate Support
A successful referral program requires a healthy relationship between businesses and affiliates. Without proper support, your affiliates may decide you are no longer trustworthy enough to promote to their dedicated followers.
The best affiliate marketing software will help you keep you maintain a good rapport with partners by ensuring you pay affiliates on time, provide them with updated links when necessary, and more.
Additionally, because affiliate tracking automatically measures performance, you can quickly see which partners are the most valuable to your business and thank them for their efforts. Rewarding top performers is a great way to support your affiliates and encourage them to keep up the good work.
Affiliate marketing software improves communication with your own affiliate program and within your enterprise. Because the platform displays affiliate sales and information on an intuitive user interface, you can contact a partner with a single click and relay important messages.
Additionally, many affiliate marketing platforms are collaborative, so everyone on your team can stay on the same page.
What to Look for in Affiliate Program Software
When you come across popular affiliate marketing software, you should do some digging to find out if it’s the best for your organization. You may have different affiliate management requirements than companies that use other affiliate marketing software you find online.
To decide which affiliate software is the best way to manage partners, consider these factors:
Compare the costs of various platforms to see which makes the most sense for your budget. You may also want to check out different tier options for affiliate management within a single organization. For example, can you start at a lower price with fewer capabilities and upgrade when you need increased customer support and software that can handle unlimited affiliates?
In general, it’s best to avoid programs that don’t offer a free trial or demo. You don’t want to invest in a digital product without seeing how it works in real time – you might realize the learning curve is too much for you to handle, it doesn’t have all the features you need, or it’s not the right time to use affiliate software. Signing up for a free trial allows you to have confidence when you decide to invest and helps you avoid wasting money.
Whether you are new to affiliate programs or have been running them successfully for years, you are likely going to run into issues on your management platform. Perhaps you just have a simple question about a new feature, or you one day realize coupon code tracking isn’t working. No matter how large or small the issue is, you need to know that customer support will be on your side working to quickly solve problems.
Your feature requirements may grow as your affiliate network does. So, you must think about the future of your business when looking into the features of affiliate management software. Do they have everything you need today and can they offer more down the road? This is important because switching affiliate management platforms can be time-consuming and difficult. You can avoid the headache by choosing a platform that can grow with you.
What is the Best Affiliate Marketing Software?
As we’ve determined, the best affiliate marketing program will depend on your organization’s affiliate management needs, the size of your network, and marketing goals.
When you’re ready to add an affiliate marketing program to your existing tech stack, iDevAffiliate is an excellent option. While other software options are new to the internet, iDevAffiliate is one of the SaaS companies that has been around for over two decades.
With more than 20 years of experience, iDevAffiliate is one of the best platforms to manage your affiliate programs.
Contact us today for a free trial and experience how iDevAffiliate can transform your existing network into a powerful marketing machine.
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Jim Webster is the founder and CEO of iDevAffiliate, Inc. As one of the original developers of iDevAffiliate, he has been involved in the affiliate/influencer industry since the late ’90s. Yes, just about 25 years now! He still maintains an active role in the development, support and management of the iDevAffiliate platform and continues to contribute to the industry via tradeshows, affiliate conferences, speaking engagements, etc.
As an editor and author for our blog, Jim hopes to educate and advise people with more in-depth information & guidance on creating, building and managing profitable affiliate tracking programs.
Jim and his wife Robyn reside in Southern California and enjoy mountain bike riding, snowboarding and relaxing on the beach.